Mimar Sinan, Ottoman Michelangelo

This article is also available in: Italiano

One of the most incredible men in the entire history of the Orient. Compared to Michelangelo, Mimar Sinan was first Janissary and then architect, shaping the Ottoman Empire with the sword first and then with bricks.


Mimar Sinan was born in 1489 in Ağırnas, a village in central Anatolia, to a family of Christian stonemasons. Here he will be captured at the age of 23 with the practice of devşirme and enrolled in the body of the Janissaries. In Istanbul he will become Muslim by taking the name of Sinan and undertaking a long and incredible military career. It will serve both under Selim I and under Suleiman, participating in some of the most glorious battles in the entire Ottoman history.

Mimar Sinan
From the Suleiman complex

It will be present both in the conquest of Belgrade and in the battle of Mohács. The latter was a particularly significant event in European history, as, with the Ottoman victory, Hungary will be shared with the Austrians, losing their autonomy until the First World War. He will then be promoted to the Royal Guard, having the opportunity to participate in conflicts in every part of the Empire, surprising for military and logistical skills. During his military apprenticeship, in fact, he studied in depth also architecture, qualities that will make it emerge further in the long war campaigns. At the end of his career he was awarded the title of Agha, the first in the history of the Janissaries to receive it and in 1539, at 45 years old, he decided to devote all his time to architecture, his true passion.

Mimar, “architect”

Today he is remembered as one of the greatest architects in history, compared by many to Michelangelo for genius and talent. During his long career, which ended only with his death at 99, he dedicated himself to the construction of over 400 buildings, 196 of which still exist today. It should also be noted that Sinan was not only dedicated to mosques, which still remain their symbol today, but also buildings such as bridges, schools, public baths, mausoleums and many others, scattered throughout the Ottoman Empire. Precisely for these reasons, Mimar Sinan can only be seen as a real turning point for Turkish and Islamic architecture.

Mimar Sinan
The Suleymaniye mosque

The place with the greatest concentration of his works is undoubtedly the Fatih district in Istanbul. Here, in fact, there are the first large mosque he ever built, the Şehzade, and the Solimano complex, his best known work of all. Precisely as our partial absence, we advise our readers to venture into every mosque in the district. The works of the great architect are in fact scattered throughout the area and will be able to reserve you incredible moments of amazement, making you suddenly savor the Ottoman history.

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Mimar Sinan

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